Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Only Thing Worse than a Two-Party System

A two-party system has been problematic for the United States. We were particularly hurt by it this year, and will feel its effects for at least four years to come. I didn't think there was anyone worse than GW Bush, but American ingenuity is and always has been unlimited, and we've managed to find someone.

It was pretty frustrating to see a brilliant candidate like Bernie Sanders fight a David and Goliath battle against a preordained candidate like Hillary Clinton. A big reason was that we'd become accustomed to Democrats who didn't really stand for working people and gave us valuable lip service instead.

Health care for all? A pipe dream. Unionized labor? Not necessarily bad, but we support non-unionized charters and Barack Obama could never find shoes comfortable enough to take a stand in Wisconsin, let alone anywhere else. A living wage? Maybe we'll compromise and give you a higher non-living wage. College education for all? Maybe Donald Trump will send Ivanka to Queens College, so forget it.

So what do we get? Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. With that menu, I chose Hillary Clinton, though I had very strong reservations about her. I don't regret it because I'm proud to be among the near 3-million votes she got over Big Orange. Trump's pathological lies and execrable bigotry put me off big time. His victory put me off even more.

As frustrating as that is, it's just as frustrating facing a union controlled by only UFT Unity. Now it wouldn't be so bad if they were out there fighting for us, but I don't get that feeling at all. We've given in so many times, on so many bad ideas, that I wonder whether leadership knows the difference. It's hard to forget, for example, that the only time I've ever seen Michael Mulgrew fighting mad was when he was defending Common Core and offering to punch all our faces out.  But that's the tip of the iceberg.

The iceberg itself is full of mayoral control, which we endorsed for Mayor Mike both before and after he showed himself as our blood enemy. There are the Green Dot Charters that Randi brought to the Big Apple, partnering UFT with Steve Barr after he snookered LA teachers but good. And who can forget the 2005 contract that not only sent seniority placement the way of the dinosaur, but also gave us the Absent Teacher Reserve, the one with which we're still grappling now.

But they're always right. It doesn't matter what they do. When they win something, it's a victory. When they lose something, it's another victory. When they support Hillary, they tell us how smart they are. In fact, they're still defending that decision, despite the massive and ruinous consequences that will rain upon us in the coming months. They never do anything wrong. They never have and they never will. As long as you're willing to accept that, you can sign an oath and join the team.

Here's the thing, though. The team is losing on a massive scale, The ship is sinking and leadership is still telling us how clever they are. When we ask what on earth we're gonna do about this they tell us there's a new loud and proud campaign--more of the same. It's very hard to tell an entrenched and patronage powered bureaucracy that we need to actually organize in ways that haven't been attempted in decades, ways they've not seen in their professional lives.

But the only thing really worse than a two party system is a one-party system, and as long as the Prime Directive remains perpetuating the system, the smart money is on massive and crushing losses the likes of which we've never known before.
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